Thursday, February 19, 2004


After weeks and weeks of fruitless searching, I uncovered today something so rare in France that I was almost certain it didn't exist. No, it wasn't a man in loose-fitting pants - they certainly don't exist. What I found was - a place that plays decent music.

And there's only two problems: 1) It was in Lille, a 40 minute train ride away; and 2) It was in the train station snack shop. Other than that, it is hands down the place to hear music. A steady stream of Motown serenaded me as I drank my $3.50 Earl Grey. And it was a much welcome respite from the streams of crap that pour out of most French radio stations.

'Cause, seriously? There is not one decent station here. Not one. And there's, like, 25 stations available in Arras. But they all suck. Not only because they mostly play craptacular music (more on that later) but also because they seem to think that "Songs in English" is a musical genre. You know, some people like pop, and some people like hip-hop, and some people like songs in English. So, by this logic, the same people who like, say, Led Zepellin or Supertramp will, of course, love the new hit song "Saturday Night" by the Crappy McCrapalots (or something like that). Sample lyrics:

Saturday's the only day I wake up thinking about
'Cause every other day is just another day, no doubt
And every time I think about you thoughts run through my mind
And everybody's working for the weekend

Like, WTF?@##$@ Was that written by a monkey equipped with a random-cliched-sentence-generator or what? Did no one involved with the production of that song realize that none of the lyrics mean anything? I mean, why don't I write a song called "Monday Morning" and sing about how every day that's not Monday is another day, and when I talk words come out of my mouth, and I wish it was Sunday, whoa-whoa?

And then there's the Fox 40 solos - I mean, you know how songs performed by actual musicians sometimes have a musical solo? You know, with an musical instrument of some sort? Well these guys? Have a whistle. Yes, like Mr. Westhaver in gym class. Or The Coach.

Thank Jebus for Kazaa and CD burners.

Saturday, February 14, 2004

So good, it hurts...

Last Thursday we picked up our third consecutive win at quiz night. We're on such a hot streak that our arch-nemesis - a pony-tailed, leather jacket-wearing, quiz-winning ladies man whom we've dubbed "Leatherman" - came over to shake our hands and congratulate us. That, or try to poison us through our skin, like in the season finale of 24 last year.

Work is starting to pick up, we're actually getting visitors and giving tours and kah-razy stuff like that... Otherwise, we mostly have to find ways to amuse ourselves at work. I started trying to memorize all the flags of the world from the big map we have at BH. My favorites so far are Lesotho and Seychelles. Least favorites are those with stripes in them. Be creative, people! Also, we sometimes amuse ourselves by reminiscing about ignorant and offensive things we've overheard from visitors...for example, did you know that because the Canadians joined the war so late, when the Americans did, we didn't really know how to wage war, and subsequently 10 Canadians were killed for every German? Which is a pretty neat trick, seeing as we mobilized about 600,000 soldiers and the Germans had 1.8 million deaths. Oh, and also that we joined the war right at the start with Great Britain. I don't know, I guess his pants were too tight.

Speaking of tight pants...ladies, you know how when you're going out and you want to avoid unseemly panty lines, you can always slip on a (in the immortal words of the poet Sisqo) "thong th-thong thong thong"? Well, in France, since the women aren't the only ones who wear tight pants, they are also not the only ones who...well, you get the unfortunate mental picture.

Friday, February 06, 2004

Alright - one more that will be crossed off the list of "Things Laura Can't Do": parallel park. So many years, so many tears, and all it took was a foreign country and a vehicle twice the size of the parking space. Watch out cars and trucks of all makes and sizes - I'm comin' for you mofos and I'm gonna parallel park you but good! Fo' shizzle.

In other news - French teenage boys, more so than other teenage boys, need a good ass-whuppin'. Seriously? I'm too old for this shit. First, myself and both a female and male guide were walkin' and we hear these guys heckling us from about 50m back or so...and then they started throwing snowballs (like, brainiacs, don't be starting snowball fights with CANADIANS, freakin' Einsteins) and then they start chasing us. So we ducked into this store, you know, just to avoid us kicking their asses - and we bump into them on the way out, and they're, like, 17 years old! And 4 feet tall! And they're all "Mais, on s'amusait, c'est tout" (translation: "Our mothers smoked cracked while pregnant"). And I'm like, dudes, someday, some Canadian girls are gonna pound you, but good. Fo' shizzle.

And then, last night, the same female guide and myself were walking home (after our second VICTORIOUS QUIZ NIGHT YAY! but more on that later) and this car followed us in reverse for about four blocks, with the driver trying to chat us up. We just ignored him and his buddy, of course, but then they pulled in front of us when we were trying to cross a street, and then a block later he jumped out of his car. Before you guys get too scared for our personal safety, he too was 17/4 - that is, 17 and 4 feet tall. And my coworker happens to be a kickboxing instructer and I happen to be addicted to, I mean, I play rugby. But still, it's a weird feeling, especially when he started calling us all sorts of names after Ann told him, in both official language, goodnight and go fuck yourself. Ah, the joys of bilingualism. Fo' shizzle.

So - quiz night. Anyone who's worked at BH or Vimy will be familiar with this, but there's an Irish pub called "The Ould Shebeen" run by John, the ever-charming Irishman who loves Canadians because we drink lots. Every Thursday night he holds a 30-question quiz, and I believe (although I could be mistaken) that the guide teams usually do anywhere from alright to ass-kicked. However, last week we tied for first, but because it was late and he didn't want to do a tie-breaking round, John awarded us the victory. And then this week, we returned to crush the other teams into oblivion. For real this time - although technically we are, with two victories, on a winning think of me this coming Thursday where we will either be showered with praise or booed until John's throat is sore. Fo' shizzle.

Sunday, February 01, 2004

The following post contains scenes that may nauseate some viewers. Viewer discretion is advised. Names and places have been changed to protect the identities of the victims.

So, there's this girl. Let's call her...uh, L. Floyd. No, no, that's too obvious. How about...Laura F. And last night, in the town of, she partook of the fine Scottish delicacy that is...HAGGIS. (Duh duh duuuuh!!) Not once - but three times.

You see,, I mean she was at a Robbie Burns night, ya wee sleekit tim'rous creature! There was drinking and dancing and dining, at which point she ate not only her own serving, but also that of her non-red-meat/intestine-eating roommate, and then asked the servers for another helping.

But she wouldn't touch the peas.

Okay, okay, you guys have probably figured it out...that woman was me! (gasp!). Yeah, I know, haggis just sounds so gross...but it was delicious! And you pour a wee dram of whiskey over it and mmmm! But the cannot describe their disgustingness [sic] [also, sick]. My afore-mentioned non-red-meat-eating roommate and I had a deal where we'd swap portions of meat and veggies - but when the roast pork came out with the side of peas, we both cracked up because...well, because it was like the chef thought " can I take a vegetable and make it as meaty as possible? Why, I'll cover it with lardons (fatty chunks of bacon) and smother it with beef gravy!" But it still wasn't meaty enough for me to actually eat them...ew, peas.

To change the topic completely - have you ever tried explaining Groundhog Day to someone who's never heard of it? Try it, and finally understand why Europeans look down on North American culture.